I was channel surfing in the car the other day when I heard Procol Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”. I make it a point never to listen to the song despite its iconic status. It didn’t make sense when it was released in 1967 and it didn’t make sense that it became part of the “Big Chill “soundtrack. So why do classic rock stations insist on playing it every 25 minutes?

I learned this week that the song describes a drunken seduction attempt by one of the band members. I give the writers credit for including various literary references, including “Alice in Wonderland” (‘I wandered through her playing cards’), and Chaucer’s pilgrims (‘as the miller told his tale’). Still, it’s a song that has outlived its usefulness.

Rolling Stone Magazine named “Whiter Shade of Pale” the 57thgreatest rock song of all time.  While there are countless lists of greatest rock songs there are very few lists of worst, most pretentious or most over-played rock songs. In 1993, syndicated columnist Dave Barry wrote a book about the worst songs of all time.  His worst five were:

“MacArthur Park” –Richard Harris
“Yummy, Yummy, Yummy I’ve Got Love in my Tummy” – Ohio Express
“Having my Baby”- Paul Anka
“Honey”- Bobby Goldsborough
`Lay Lady Lay’ – Bob Dylan

Further down the list are, “Muskrat Love’ ‘Sugar Sugar”, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,”, “Afternoon Delight’‘, “Feelings’ ‘You Light Up My Life” and “In the Year 2525”.
Barry awarded a special Lifetime Bad Achievement Award to Mac Davis, who wrote “In the Ghetto ‘‘, “Watching little Scotty Grow”, and “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me’.

Songs that must die 
Mercifully you rarely hear any of Barry’s most hated songs on the radio today.  However, there are many numbers that are sadistically overplayed on classic rock stations.

“We Built This City” – Jefferson Starship. Years of drug abuse finally caught up to Grace Slick and company in the eighties resulting in this pretentious, self-congratulatory embarrassment.

“Imagine” My kids were forced to sing this at every school parent event since Kindergarten so I’ve probably heard it sung live over 100 times. Imagine John Lennon singing about “no possessions’ from his mansion overlooking Central Park.  Yes, the same abode where Lennon maintained a refrigerated room to store hundreds of fur coats.

“Hotel California” –I like mirrors on the ceiling as much as the next guy but after 40 years it’s time to retire this Eagles dirge.

“We Will Rock You” Freddie Mercury produced many great songs, but this is the antithesis of great. I understand why stadiums play it but who can possibly listen to this voluntarily? 

 “The Joker” – The Steve Miller song that mentions the “pompitous of love”. Forty years later nobody knows what pompitous mean including Steve.

“The Beat Goes On” – Cher explains modern times by expounding “lectrically they keep a baseball score”. Puhleeze.

 “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” – Probably doesn’t belong on this list since it was written as a catchy ditty to sell Coke. However, I love one online commentator’s observation that this song was probably the reason Bob Dylan cut his hair and moved to the woods.

 “It’s Only Rock and Roll (But I Like It)”. This was most likely a cry for help from Mick and Keith. They were explaining that after ten plus years of writing great songs they had nothing left to say.

“Band on the Run” – Dave Barry theorizes that shortly after forming “Wings”, Paul McCartney’s brain was taken over by a pod person.

“Abracadabra” – The question that lingers till this day is what three- year- old did Steve Miller pay to write this absurdity.

Songs that need a Cease and Desist Order
“White Wedding Day” – Billy Idol
 “Still Rock and Roll to Me” – Billy Joel
“Sususdio” – Phil Collins
” You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet”- Bachman Turner Overdrive
“Start Me Up” – The Rolling Stones
 “We’re an American Band”- Grand Funk Railroad
“Centerfold”- J. Geils Band

Have a great weekend. Please don’t call me if you can’t get to sleep because “someone left the cake out in the rain” is stuck in your head.

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